Saturday, May 24, 2008

Club Champs semi-final: TRR 6 Lisnagarvey 5

In complete contrast to the first semi-final, TRR and Lisnagarvey served up an absolute cracker at UCD in the blazing sunshine to set up an All-Leinster pair of finals tomorrow afternoon.

A five-star performance from Mitch Darling had Rovers home and hosed early on before a near freakish comeback had the crowd gnawing at their nails until the very end.

Darling opened the scoring with his side’s second clear-cut chance after two minutes, a superb reverse shot from the left of the circle into the roof of the net.

And the Grange Road side dominated the first half, Darling doubling the lead from a tidy short corner.

‘Garvey pulled one back after a fortunate corner, awarded when Charlie Henderson got his feet in a tangle when faced with a simple clearance. Timmy Cockram scored the resulting drag-flick. Indeed, that was the Northern side’s one of only two significant attacks in the first half. From the other they won a stroke, off Alan Bothwell’s foot on the line.

Stephen Arbuthnot, though, could not take advantage, banging the ball off the post with Henderson going the wrong way.

Maarten Sier restored the two-goal advantage in bizarre fashion. His drag-flick was saved by David Williamson’s glove but looped high into the air. Attempting to clear the ball, a ‘Garvey defender knocked the strike the ball straight into his own net.

If that goal was lucky, the fourth was a thing of true beauty. A free out turned into a fifteen pass move, with no Lisnagarvey player getting near a touch or interception.

Passes down the right flank found Colin Huet on the backline whose pass across was met first time by Darling to fly high into the net to make it 4-1 – an excellent goal to round off the half.

The Northerners came back strong in the second half, knowing they would have to go some to keep their season alive for one more day.

Cockram and Mark Daniel both flashed wide before Darling looked to have well and truly finished the game in the 55th minute – his reverse wrong-footing Williamson after Andy McConnell laid on.

Brian Waring got one back a minute later with cracking aerial rebound but Darling got his fifth in the 58th minute to make it 6-2. It was another beautifully conceived goal, Andy McConnell blazing a trail down the right wing before waiting for the perfect moment to set up Darling for another spectacular finish.

That should have been that. But ‘Garvey showed the fighting spirit that saw them qualify for the semis with a last gasp goal against Pembroke.

Rovers were all at sea when Daniel Buser deflected in Mark Daniel’s cross with eight minutes to go.

The pair repeated the trick before Cockram’s second drag-flick made for a nervy final 190 seconds. They saw a cross bobble across the front of the goal before Rovers finally got a grip on the game and played out the remaining time in the Lisnagarvey corner.

A cracking game and one to look out for Setanta Ireland in the next few days.

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